Working in news, there is an obvious pressure to "do well" on social media. Put bluntly, the number of likes, followers, engagement, etc. matters. Some can see it as self-centered or a waste of time... but when we're being honest - it's 2019. Everyone has a cell phone... and more often than not, at least one or two social media apps on that cell phone. In TV, as a person whose career largely depends on likeness & preferring their newscast/forecast over others, you either get on board or you get left behind.
How do I know it matters? In both newsrooms I've worked in, we were ranked and compared to others at the station and others in the market (competitors). That ranking was determined by engagement, number of posts, etc. Not that anchors/reporters went into work thinking "I NEED TO BE AT THE TOP OF THE SOCIAL MEDIA BOARD TODAY"... but more of, we knew the boss was looking at those numbers and it would obviously look bad if your name was at the bottom of that list. (Shady popularity contest? maybe. But again - our jobs depend on viewers (people) preferring to turn to us over others. So the bosses take social media into consideration.)
When it comes down to it, it's all about building your own brand - being the person people go to for information And social media is a good way to work towards building that base.
That being said...
I started a Facebook page & Twitter account for work when I was an intern (6 years ago) and have carried it with me through Lubbock, Albuquerque and now to Austin -- starting up a work Instagram account along the way. There are days I love it, and days I hate it, but when it comes down to it - it's required for my job. So I post. Everyday.
The primary reason I use social (FB/Twitter/IG) is for viewers to get to know me as a person and not just "the girl on TV".
My approach: I tend to post a mix of work & personal stuff. From forecasts to selfies, news stories to sunset photos, on-camera work to behind-the-scenes shenanigans and fun things I do on my days off, I post it all.
Over the years, I've found that people like to see 'TV people' doing 'real people things'. Some of my most "liked" photos are not in front of the green screen or in studio at all. It's just me living my life outside of work - at home or out and about.
I'm a firm believer in showing viewers we are not robots. We are people who have bad hair days, need coffee to look alive and sometimes, wear certain outfits solely because it's the only thing that's clean that day. I've found that going beyond the "I'm on TV & my life is perfect" facade and instead, showing "this is what my hot mess of a life is really like" is what people want to see on their news feed.
Now, with that said, that is what I've found works for me. There are plenty of people in the business who disagree with me... the argument being "work is work"... "we're not celebrities, we're journalists"... "it's too fake". I get the argument. However, I went into the TV business being told there would be at least some loss in privacy and anonymity. So instead of fighting it and limiting myself to being just "the weather person", I've embraced the medium. I choose to be more open. The more viewers feel they know me, the higher the chance they'll turn on my newscast over another in the market. That's just my opinion.
Anyone who has any sort of social media knows this is no surprise -- but the obvious downside of FB/Twitter/IG are the bullies. The "keyboard warriors" who feel spouting hate, condescending comments and/or hurtful criticism is "their right" and "free speech" -- and boy, does this irritate me more than words can describe.
We get it, you don't like the current political situation or you disagree with someone else's way of life. But Lord Almighty, do people REALLY think posting their negative comments on FB or insulting others on Twitter will do any good to support their beliefs or opinions? (Answer: no. You just look like a whiner being immature about things not going your way)
I have been on the receiving end of these miserable comments since Day 1 of my career. I don't say this for sympathy, but say it to make it known that some people can be AWFUL with their words. It's the worst part of the business.
Most people think we are criticized for a wrong forecast... the "you said it was going to rain & it didn't"... or "I wish I could get paid to be wrong all the time".
But I can tell you from my experience, 95% of the "hate mail" I receive are all about my appearance (the other 5% being about my character - or what they perceive as "who I am"). From my "fat arms" "big knees" "nails on a chalkboard voice" ... to the classic "are you pregnant" comments (which the answer has always been no)... people can be VICIOUS. They'll pick out anything & everything to complain about.
Now there is a bit of that expected when you're in a visual industry like television. I get it, people have opinions. And you can't make everyone happy. However, what I don't get is how a dress I'm wearing can bother someone *so much that they feel the need to post on FB that I look 'ABC' or send a message on Instagram with an insult of 'XYZ'.
One-hundred percent, you're entitled to not like the dress I'm wearing. But do you really think that you telling me that I look like "a balloon" is going to make me go home and throw the dress in the trash? (Again, answer: no. I paid money for it. Until Nordstorm calls me up & is willing to dress me everyday before work, I'm not throwing any clothing article away anytime soon. And I can promise you, you will see me on TV wearing it again soon.)
The bottom line
We obviously have to play nice even when viewers are mean - after all, we represent a TV station. But when it comes down to it, we're not forcing anyone to like our Facebook page or follow us on Twitter or watch our Instagram stories. If I bother you that much, feel free to punch the unfollow button. But know that when you see anchors or reporters posting on social, more often than not, we're just trying to do our jobs. Whether you're in the business or not, keep your negative comments down & just keep on' scrollin. At the end of the day, it's just social media.